The Vidalia region has already seen an unexpectedly slow start to harvest which resulted from above average rainfall and unseasonably cold weather as late as Easter weekend. Now, growers have uncovered another issue with their 2013 crop. Seed stems, also referred to as “bolters,” “flower stalks” or “seeders,” are showing up throughout the Vidalia onion production district in disturbing numbers.
Monday morning emails and phone calls began pouring in about widespread, high percentages of seed stems that were noticed late last week and through the weekend across the production area.
During the growing season, multiple stress factors can affect the health of an onion and lead to seed stems. The condition causes the core of an onion to become hollow, which results in rapid deterioration of the entire onion. Fortunately onions that do have seed stems are easily recognizable during the grading process and can be removed. As a result, consumers should not notice a drop in quality at retail.
The world-famous Vidalia sweet onion normally begins shipping in mid-April with fresh supplies available through early June. With available storage capacity, shippers are generally able to ship storage supplies through August.